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Charting the Future by Way of the Past

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Charting the Future by Way of the Past

“Ann! Ann!” Glancing around, Ann spotted the haggard-looking old woman who was gaining on her at frightening speed. Hair flying in the wind, pretty, young Ann frantically urged her horse faster and faster through the winding mountain trails. She finally reached the safety and comfort of her family, never learning the identity of her terrifying pursuer.

Decades ago, I enjoyed this haunting episode of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. From the series that always ended with a twist and a lesson, this particular story made a lasting impression on me. Maybe it was because the lead character and I share a name.

Ann was 19 years-old and about to make a major life decision, one that for all appearances was the right one, but that would eventually cause great heartache.

The twist was that the “old” woman she encountered while out riding was herself… her 40 year-old self, desperately attempting to alter the course of her own history. With no future to speak of, she was doomed to spend the remainder of her days mourning the mistakes of her youth and vainly trying to turn back time.

As for the lesson, the older Ann knew she made a mistake, but hadn’t learned from it, never figured out how to focus on what was ahead of her rather than what was behind her. She simply wanted a do-over, a chance to go back and change her course altogether. The younger Ann was playing “hear no evil.”

Forty year-old Ann would have been better served had she taken the reins and rode off in an entirely new direction rather than treading the same old path to nowhere. Had she learned from her previous errors and determined to move forward, she could have discovered strengths and talents she never knew she possessed. Alas, she is doomed to languish in a sea of regret.

If I could give some advice to my 19 year-old self, what would it be? Would I… could I save myself from the youthful mistakes I made? Would I have even listened?

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

42 comments

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9:21AM PST on Nov 27, 2010

I would make more mistakes earlier. LOL

1:47PM PDT on Oct 29, 2010

excellent article. i especially liked the last bit. i spent years dreaming of going back and changing the past while missing out on the present, which i do regret but not too much. i have too much living to get done in the now.

1:32PM PDT on Oct 28, 2010

The surest way to know one's future is to examine one's life up to present. We are all highly prone to keep making the same mistakes over and over.

5:10AM PDT on Oct 28, 2010

Ya know, I think I would change very little....

10:18PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

Most of us think we should learn from our past. We also agree that hindsight is better than foresight.

So here's what works for me.

I imagine I am already through the situation. IT CAME TO PASS, that's a favorite Bible verse. It did not come to stay. It came to pass.

I imagine (image in) that I am already through the situation and am looking back. How do I wish I had handled it? What will I wish I had done or not done? What do I feel unhappy about concerning my handling of the situation? What would I feel PLEASED about in the way I am handling the situation.

Second chance! Back to reality in the present time. LOL

10:18PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

Most of us think we should learn from our past. We also agree that hindsight is better than foresight.

So here's what works for me.

I imagine I am already through the situation. IT CAME TO PASS, that's a favorite Bible verse. It did not come to stay. It came to pass.

I imagine (image in) that I am already through the situation and am looking back. How do I wish I had handled it? What will I wish I had done or not done? What do I feel unhappy about concerning my handling of the situation? What would I feel PLEASED about in the way I am handling the situation.

Second chance! Back to reality in the present time. LOL

8:17PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

I like a saying I read the other day about the directions you are looking: look in the past and you live in sorrow, look around and you live in worry, look up and you live in faith. Live for today.

7:56PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

When I was young I often heard women say what they would give to be a certain age again, 20, 30, etc. BUT they always ended it with saying they would want to know then what they know now. People say you are only young once...well you're only ANYTHING once and we can't profit then from what we will learn.

6:40PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

Excellent thank you. Loved that particular episode.

5:22PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

thks v intresting. i blieve.

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people are talking

Thank you!

Knowing me, I'll just continue to eat these ingredients separately and skip the sauce/syrup altogeth…

I agree that we underestimate cats and their ability to be protectors of their favorite humans.

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